With chocolate box-pretty villages and rolling hills, Surrey – an hour or less by train or car from London – makes for a brilliant, countryside-filled staycation. It is, most people are surprised to learn, England’s most wooded county, home to ancient heathland, towering forests and world-class gardens. As well as being a hiker’s paradise – the start point for the famed 153-mile, multi-day North Downs Way National Trail begins in Farnham and runs along the chalky ridge of the North Downs, passing through the yew-filled woodland and meadows of the Surrey Hills AONB, before tracking into Kent – Surrey also boasts theme parks, vineyards, first-class restaurants and charming places to stay too. Here are my top travel picks for a Surrey stay.
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Where to walk
Walkers are spoilt for choice. For astonishing views of the Weald, head to Hindhead Commons and the Devil’s Punch Bowl and do the 4.5 mile walk around the rim of the ‘bowl’ – a depression said to have been created when the Devil scooped a handful of earth from the ground during a fight with Thor, the God of Thunder.
The Mole Gap Trail is a gorgeous six-mile jaunt, which starts at Leatherhead station, meanders alongside the River Mole and through picturesque countryside before ending up at Denbies vineyard for post-ramble glasses of sparkling Whitedowns Cuvee.
Try nearby Box Hill for breathtaking views of the South Downs, and discover ancient box tree woodland and a stepping stone trail.
Take stroll to the Devil’s Punch Bowl (National Trust/Chris Lacey)
All Scots pine and silver birch woodland, and heathland where bog asphodel flourishes, Woking’s 916-acre Horsell Common makes for a walk with an interesting literary connection – its central sandpit provided the setting for the Martian landing in HG Wells’ War of